Screens Tuesday, April 5, 5:00pm – Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies

Arielle Thomas, Producer

ARIELLE THOMAS playing JEAN BATTEN: CO-PRODUCER Co‑founder of Patch Adams Productions, Arielle Thomas has been working in the Australian film and television industry since she was 16. Arielle (22) recently graduated from the illustrious Atlantic Acting School, as part of New York University. Arielle’s theatre credits while in New York include Abby in Desire Under the Elms and Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dandereuses and since returning to Australia, Myst in Out of Gas on Lovers Leap. With equal focus, pursuing a career on stage and screen, Arielle played Susie in Patch Adams’ first short film Rabbit. Taking part in master class training with American acting coach Larry Moss in 2014, Arielle continues to push boundaries with characters and work on stage and screen. The opportunity to delve into Jean Batten’s character in Airgirl is the role of a lifetime and Arielle is so excited to bring her to the screen for the first time. Next up, Arielle can be seen in Deadline Gallipoli (Michael Rymer/NBC Universal, Foxtel, Full Clip) playing Nonie, airs April on Foxtel.

JAMES VINSON James is fledging writer director and a recent graduate from the University of Melbourne. After majoring in screenwriting and cultural cinema studies, James continues to advance his filmmaking skills by directing independent productions. He has since garnered a range of local and international festival accolades, and his most recent short film entitled Abraxas was officially selected for the Cannes Festival Short Film Corner and showcased at the American Online Film Awards. In the near future, James aspires to further his studies at the prestigious National Film and Television School in the United Kingdom.
When I first discovered Jean Batten’s story, I was in awe of her will to accomplish so much whilst defying the social expectations of her time. Of course, her success was not without personal tragedy, and distinct from the likes of Amelia Earhart, Jean was rarely shown charity. She fought hard for every opportunity she could afford. Her resolve was impressive, but intimidating to those who wished to be close with her, and there’s sadness to that. It’s a sobering reality that I feel many can relate to, especially for those of us who struggle to balance our professional ambitions against our personal friendships.
Jean had a calling to be a wanderer of the skies. I believe this calling gave her strength, and immense willpower, but it undeniably contributed to her eventual loneliness. Whilst this film does not seek to educate the audience on precise dates or events throughout her lifetime, I believe our film accurately renders a vivid portrayal of Jean’s private persona, a side of her that she consciously kept out of the limelight.
Ultimately I found this to be a very rewarding approach; paying tribute to a story that had never yet been told in cinema. Unlike various aviation biographical films that have come before, our film wants to deliver a far more grounded study of character, less interested in glorifying the period and lifestyle with excessive spectacle. Instead, our sole focus was to illustrate a woman’s intimate struggle with fame and isolation.

About Airgirl

In 1937 Jean Batten, the legendary New Zealand pilot, touches down in Sydney after smashing a series of aviation records. But on the night of her reception, a chance encounter forces Jean to confront the lonesome consequences of her high‑flying lifestyle. Inspired by a true story.